DEAR ABBY: I grew up in a home where my father beat my mother and sexually abused me. I am married now and the mother of two beautiful daughters. After my father died three years ago, I learned that my mother had known what he was doing to me and did nothing to protect me.
My husband's family says I should forgive and forget and let my children enjoy their grandmother. I told my kids what she had "allowed," and they now want nothing to do with her. I think a mother should protect her children at all costs. Am I wrong? Don't I have a right to be angry at her? -- OUTRAGED IN OMAHA
DEAR OUTRAGED: Unless your mother expresses deep regret for failing to protect you, I see no reason to encourage a relationship with someone who ignored the physical and emotional abuse of her child.
Since you and your mother were abused, I urge you and her to seek separate and possibly joint counseling. In that supportive environment, you will find an opportunity to express the trauma you both felt living and growing up in your father's house.
DEAR ABBY: I am a 20-year-old college student in Japan who discovered your column through a class lecture. My instructor is in love with "Dear Abby" and teaches English by reading aloud letters from the column, followed by a class discussion.
This has allowed me to learn about American culture and customs. Some of the situations described in the letters have been a shock to me, while others are common incidents we also experience in Japan.
Please continue helping men, women and children with your kind and correct advice. -- H.N. IN OKINAWA
DEAR H.N.: I'm pleased you enjoy the column and find it helpful. Although there are many differences in our cultures, it's heartwarming to remember how many things we also have in common.
Your instructor is neither the first nor the only educator to use Dear Abby as a teaching tool. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: I teach English as a Second Language (ESL) to immigrants in Southern California and find your column helpful in my conversation groups.
Many of my students come from countries with vastly different customs, and your column serves as a wonderful tool to introduce them to American customs.
While my students may have similar issues regarding sex, marriage, divorce, children, etc. in their own countries, the handling of these topics is vastly different in America.
Thanks to your informative column, these students leave my classroom not only with a better knowledge of the English language, but also a better understanding of the customs in this great country of ours. -- ESL INSTRUCTOR IN LOS ANGELES
DEAR ESL INSTRUCTOR: Thank you for the kind words. After reading your letter, I realized that my column is still doing the job it was intended to do when advice columns were first invented.
Around the turn of the last century, a wave of immigration brought a flood of people to this country from Central Europe. In those days immigrants were determined to submerge themselves in the melting pot of American society. Advice columns originated in Yiddish-language newspapers to educate these new arrivals about what was expected of them in their new homeland.
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